Help me change minds about the recreational use of marijuana
June 2, 2016 10:57 PM   Subscribe

The audience: family, including 80-something mother who has a drink or two every evening before dinner, may drink a bit more on special occasions/parties (not meant to imply that alcohol is problem); 50-something brother and sister-in-law who are virtual teetotalers—she, because she "doesn't want the calories" and I guess he's keeping her company (they don't socialize much as a couple).

Brother and s-i-l drank and smoked when they were in their early 20s (she more than he). They believe that their adult kids have never used marijuana. (Very improbable/not true, although I'm assuming that their eldest, who is in law enforcement, no longer partakes.)

Why: because I'm tired of the judgmental attitude toward my daughter, who may choose to go into the business (legally) in a couple of years. (Not about me/my behavior. I rarely drink these days because my friends live elsewhere and haven't smoked in a decade—don't care if others do, but it was never my drug of choice.)

I know this may be impossible, but I believe I detected a flicker of a change in attitude when I talked about my son's experience buying weed in CO a couple of months ago. It's no secret that he's considered my "good" kid. This news did not, however, seem to take away from his standing (btw, he did not mind being outed).

So, I'm thinking that the best strategy is to "normalize" the behavior in their eyes. Credible research about marijuana use won't change minds. Meredith Vieira, Dr Oz, stories in the AARP magazine, USA Today, etc, might. Other suggestions also welcome.
posted by she's not there to Society & Culture (20 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Maybe keep normalizing it by making them feel weird. "Oh gosh James, lots of people vape a little after dinner just like some people drink a few glasses of wine. It's 2016." This could trick them into thinking that they're prudes, out of the loop, and may change their tune.
posted by k8t at 11:45 PM on June 2, 2016

Talk about it as a business? Depending where you are, it can be part of random local politics conversations - in WA several businesses located in the south of the state have apparently laid off a bunch of staff since Oregon legalized it, because they lost both the Oregonians who were travelling up to buy legal stuff and the Washingtonians who are now travelling down to save on taxes. Washington state has much higher taxes and a more complicated system than Colorado, and it's interesting to see how those differences have affected the industry (took longer to set up, some people still think it's worth buying illegally for the cheaper prices, etc). And talk about the aspects of it as an industry that interest your daughter: why would she want to work in the industry? Is she interested in the agricultural aspect, growing stronger/more varied plants? The medicinal aspect? She just thinks it's a way to get rich, and she can support that with x y and z? Presumably she has some interesting thoughts on the industry and all the changes around it.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 1:01 AM on June 3, 2016 [2 favorites]

Maybe keep normalizing it by making them feel weird. "Oh gosh James, lots of people vape a little after dinner just like some people drink a few glasses of wine. It's 2016." This could trick them into thinking that they're prudes, out of the loop, and may change their tune.

Please don't do this... lots of people really just don't want to do this, and maybe even don't enjoy being around others when they're partaking (even for non-personally-judgmental reasons). No judgment, we all want others to be able to be pain-free and happy, and if this motivates you, fine, but some people have different tastes and priorities and that's _fine_. In fact, there are probably advantages, as a society, to having _both_ kinds of people.

Also, it's completely possible to have allergies; to have sensitivities; to have the kind of upbringing that means enjoying this kind of recreation is just not going to happen; to have a family history of addiction and escapism; to have other issues. Heck, it could be like a cilantro thing: some people like it, but it's like eating soap to others. Nobody wants to be judged.

Maybe model and promote non-judgmentalism.
posted by amtho at 2:59 AM on June 3, 2016 [13 favorites]

Other than amtho's good advice of setting yourself up as an example, I think the best thing to do is hang back and let the wave of mj decriminalization/normalization that's currently sweeping through the US do this job for you. That's what worked for me, as a former judgy 'drugs are bad!' person.
posted by Fig at 3:44 AM on June 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

This is one of those questions that at first seems incomprehensible until you realize there's some data missing. How long have they viewed your son as the "good" son, and your daughter as the black sheep? This seems like the real heart of the problem, not whether or not they approve of recreational marijuana use. If you fix this, it won't matter.
posted by corb at 4:54 AM on June 3, 2016 [4 favorites]

My family has a rather narrow understanding of what is "normal" and little tolerance for anything outside the boundaries. As it happens, both my kids live well outside those boundaries, but my son can "pass" among the locals much more easily than my daughter (although that would likely change if he spent more time with them/they got to know him better).

Nonetheless, I have some hope for beating this particular issue—perhaps with the assistance of the wave of attitude change that Fig mentions.
posted by she's not there at 5:24 AM on June 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

Maybe try to focus attention on the more important positive values that you and your children have, by giving examples of how they are living those values. I'm talking about things like nurturing others, kindness, health, whatever is important to you guys. After all, these kids are not really about one specific activity, but what their larger lives allow them to be with others.

The negative reactions they're getting are probably not really about that one activity, either, but about fears that it will interfere with larger life issues. If you can allay those fears in a positive way, it could help these various people connect in a real way, about values that are important to all of them.
posted by amtho at 5:45 AM on June 3, 2016

I don't know that you can make them approve of pot use/growing. Because of my background I have a strong dislike of recreational drugs, legal or illegal, and choose to spend as little time in their presence as possible. I would find it super obnoxious if someone was handing me articles about how much fun it is or whatever.

That being said, approving of use and respecting the user are two different things. If I don't understand a (legal) choice being made, I can still be kind and friendly to someone and assume they are making the choices they think are best for them. You can ask them to be respectful of your daughter and her choices. You can take pot use off the table as a topic of conversation. As someone with opinions more like your family, I'd be perfectly happy not to talk about it in the interest of preserving family harmony.
posted by tchemgrrl at 6:41 AM on June 3, 2016 [4 favorites]

after years of my sibling and me telling my mom about why we use marijuana, what benefits it brings to our lives, how it solves things we've tried medical interventions for without the side effects of those interventions, the thing that finally cracked through was learning about medical marijuana use in young children, specifically this dateline episode.
posted by nadawi at 6:50 AM on June 3, 2016 [3 favorites]

Teach your kids (and yourself) not to pay attention to your relatives.

They sound judgemental and unkind towards you and your children. Focus on your children and having your best lives. You don't have to "pass" in front of anyone! You are an adult and a parent! Your children sound young adult age? Honestly, live your lives. Be happy together. This Is Not A Thing.

Ignore any attitude. Enjoy your bond with your children. I'm totally serious.
posted by jbenben at 7:55 AM on June 3, 2016 [4 favorites]

Agreed that the business thing is the way to go. We're legalizing it slowly here in MA and I can talk to very conservative folks about it as an inevitability in sort of a "SMH can't believe it, we'll have edible shops on the corner soon like in Amsterdam soon. Crazy world. The taxes are really going to help though." without having to start kicking down their 30 year out of date medical facts about drugs.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:02 AM on June 3, 2016

I think I would focus on legalization and normal/boring sounding things like tax revenue. I think something that can make even potentially fine-with-pot people (who may themselves have smoked when younger) take pause is stereotypes about drug dealers, news stories about Mexican drug cartels, etc. The more you can show them stories about regular businesses being average and paying taxes and all that, I think the more normal it seems. I'm thinking articles like this that really focus on the positive impacts of legalization. I would emphasize that your daughter is aiming to become involved in this legally (probably that's especially important given that members of your family are law enforcement!).

That said, to some extent I don't think this is totally something that is solve-able by making your relatives think marijuana use is "normal." Like, drinking alcohol is totally normal and legal and it sounds like your relatives don't have any major judgement issues around it, but I'm guessing they still might be a little judgmental (as many people would be) about your daughter deciding to open a liquor store. I'm guessing this one may be better solved with your daughter learning a combination of coping skills that include not giving a fuck what these people thing, but also trying not to needlessly get a rise out of them.
posted by rainbowbrite at 8:11 AM on June 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

I saw something in the last year from Rick Steves about how he likes and recreationally uses marijuana. He's a pretty popular, very "normal guy" sort of minor personality. You might be able to find a good article or interview to share with your family.

He talks about it on his own website, but an interview from a Seattle news source or similar (probably not from High Times) might serve you a little better. Or dig up and share the facebook post they mention in that Seattle PI piece.
posted by ewok_academy at 11:16 AM on June 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

My family has a rather narrow understanding of what is "normal" and little tolerance for anything outside the boundaries.

You need to get thicker skinned and model genuine acceptance of recreational MJ use. You sound to me like you are looking for their approval on some level and the real antidote to the disapproval of people like this is DGAF. You and your kids do not need their approval. Unless they both and will do something to genuinely interfere with their lives, you need to cultivate a real Meh attitude. If they say ugly things in front of you about recreational MJ use, you can very briefly go "Eh, (x person that you both know) does it and they seem to not be (sweeping generalizing your relatives just made)." and then change the subject and don't let it turn into an argument.

People like this try to control people around them with their approval/disapproval. They are on a power trip. You do not need their approval. Do not give their disapproval the power they want to believe it has.

FWIW, I am allergic to MJ and I am personally disinclined to do drugs or alcohol of any kind recreationally. And I am not judgey about other people doing it. It is not my thing, but they sure as hell do not require my approval.

And you just need to cultivate that attitude and rebut their disapproval and judgeyness with "Eh, good thing it isn't your decision/you don't run the world/no one asked your permission." And then refuse to let it become a big fight (which they may well try to turn it into, because people like this feel some huge right to butt into the lives of everyone on the planet). Make your assertion to the effect that their approval or disapproval is totes irrelevant and then move on. If they have a giant cow about that, it might be time to excuse yourself entirely from that visit at that point.
posted by Michele in California at 12:25 PM on June 3, 2016

I probably should have addressed this in the question, since it's come up a few times in the comments.

The kids and I have the "fuck that shit" attitude covered in spades. I'm kinda hoping to build some bridges by changing minds.
posted by she's not there at 12:56 PM on June 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

Is recreational Cannabis legal in your State? If so, offer to share some with them in a comfortable setting?

If it's not, or if it's only "medical," ... I guess you're going to have to wait. Or you could see if any public figures that the extended family respects have openly admitted to being a current user of Cannabis.
posted by porpoise at 1:22 PM on June 3, 2016

You don't build bridges by proselytizing. You build bridges by finding out where they live and finding how to get there from where you are.

Have they said why they disapprove of it?
posted by corb at 1:23 PM on June 3, 2016 [3 favorites]

"fuck that shit" and DGAF don't strike me as the same thing. I mean stop caring what they think and that doesn't seem to be where you are at on this. If you honestly did not care, you would not be asking this question.

However, if you do want to try to build bridges, I really liked this long comment about talking with people with different, even hostile, views.

But, it is kind of the long version of what corb said. It isn't about proselytizing.
posted by Michele in California at 2:16 PM on June 3, 2016

It sounds like you want them to have a closer and less judgmental relationship with your daughter, and you think the major thing in the way of that is their attitude towards marijuana and knowledge of her use of it.

I wonder, because things often go the other way around. If people feel judge-y about someone, they'll find something go judge. If they feel loving towards someone, they'll be shockingly flexible (for better and worse) about finding ways to reconcile and or rationalize that person's actions. (You even observed this in them with regards to your son).

If your daughter actually wants a closer relationship with them, I think she'll need to build that, including making them feel like she cherishes and respects them (even if not all of their positions). To the extent that their negativity towards her is based on stupid, uncontrollable things like her gender or who she looked like when she was born or something, I can't blame her at all for not wanting to bother.

If you want to shelter your daughter against their judgment, or even shelter yourself from having to deal with it, you're going to have to do some boundary drawing around what kind of behavior you'll accept from them.
posted by Salamandrous at 5:30 PM on June 3, 2016

I am afraid other people are reading a different question than I did so I want to clarify--you just want to help change their opinion on recreational marijuana, not make them start smoking it, right?

I think normalizing it would help tremendously, just like cigarettes or alcohol. Sure lots of people don't drink or smoke and some probably judge those who do, but it sounds like your family doesn't think less of people who drink (and some of them drink!) but DOES think less of people who smoke pot (and your kids do) so I definitely understand why this matters to you! It's okay to care about your family's opinions about you!

I think if your son can be your ally, that would really go a long way towards helping your daughter's standing, since he appears to have come out unscathed by the recent news. If your daughter can talk about the business more outwardly (not that she isn't already!) I think that would help too, so that they would see it's not a shady backroom deal or something. If they have Netflix I would show them the documentary show High Profits, which was really interesting and may show them that normal, responsible people both smoke and sell legal marijuana.

My husband and I were in Vancouver, WA back in February and ate at a restaurant across the street from a recreational pot shop. We watched people coming and going for an hour or so, and the amazing thing was how diverse the customers were. People of all ages and races were buying, so it's definitely not something just for college kids or whatever. Maybe googling "famous marijuana users" would be a decent starting point, because I'm sure there are plenty.
posted by masquesoporfavor at 9:36 AM on June 4, 2016

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